BOARDING RESERVATIONS AND PRE-PAYMENTS (UPDATED 3/2018)
Please remember that we have limited boarding space available so make your reservations early. Our busy holiday times are typically Spring Break, Memorial Day, The Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks.
During these dates and during busy summer months we will be taking pre-payments for boarding. This is similar to a deposit and holds your pet's "SPOT". Please call for more information.
CANCELLATION FOR BOARDING:
If you were not required to leave a pre-payment, there is no penalty for canceling you reservation, even at the last minute. We do ask, however, that out of consideration for others wanting to board, you notify us as soon as you realize you will no longer require boarding for your pet(s). We don't want anyone to miss a vacation because they don't have a safe place to care for their pet.
If you were asked to leave a pre-payment AND you must cancel, the following applies:
Cancel 14 days or more from your scheduled drop off date- full credit of your pre-payment will be applied to your
account at Killian Hill Animal Hospital. *
Cancel between 8 and 13 days from your scheduled drop off date- 1/2 of your pre-payment will be applied to your
account at Killian Hill Animal Hospital. *
Cancel 7days or less from your scheduled drop off date- No credit will be returned.
* PLEASE remember that we are applying the credit to your account at our hospital to be used for future transactions. We will not return pre-payments to your credit card or by cash or check.
In addition, please remember if you pick your pet up early, on days you have pre-paid, you will not get a refund for those days.
By now many of you are aware of the recent FDA report citing major dog food brands as possible culprits causing heart disease, specifically DCM (dilated cardiomyopathy). DCM is a known cardiac disease genetically seen in Doberman Pinschers, Boxers and Great Danes. However, recently it was noted that other breeds of dogs were being diagnosed with DCM. Many of them Golden Retrievers. Most of these mystery cases had a common denominator: they were eating a grain-free diet.
In our feline patients, it is common knowledge that cats develop DCM if they are not eating a diet fortified with the amino acid Taurine. Taurine is added to all commercial feline diets so we rarely see the condition in cats these days. Dogs can make their own taurine from meat proteins, methionine and cysteine amino acids. Thus, dog foods are usually not supplemented with Taurine.
Once investigators began to see the abundance of dogs with DCM, they naturally tested the pets’ taurine levels. Most were low, but some were normal. That is still a mystery.
The FDA, working with veterinary colleges, came out this week with a report of dogs diagnosed with DCM or suspected heart disease in the last 5 years. Included in this report were the dogs’ breeds, ages, clinical signs of disease and the diets they were eating at the time of diagnosis. Many well known pet food companies had some of their formulas listed as diets being fed at the time these dogs were diagnosed with DCM. Most concerning are the 16 brands that had 10 or more dogs eating one of their diets and developing heart disease. This seems significant, especially when the affected dogs are not the typical breed or age for DCM. The majority of the diets implicated are grain-free.
Why are these grain-free diets causing DCM? In many cases, it has been shown that the dogs eating these diets have low taurine levels in their blood. Remember, dogs can make taurine if they have the precursors which come from meat. Grain-free diets contain some sort of meat protein unless it is a vegetarian formula. It has been suggested that many companies are using more plant based protein sources such as legumes (peas, beans) and potatoes and less meat based protein. Taurine and its precursors are found in very high concentrations in muscle meat, fish and eggs. It is absent or very low in plant based protein. So, perhaps the protein requirement needed to pass the FDA feeding guidelines looked great on paper, but not so great once fed to the pet. Maybe the need for the taurine building blocks cysteine and methionine were overlooked.
WHAT YOU REALLY WANT TO KNOW….
What should I do if my dog has been eating one of the formulas on the FDA report or a grain-free diet?
FIRST, change your pet’s diet immediately to a formula WITH GRAINS and a MEAT source as the FIRST ingredient. You can mix the old diet with the new for a few days if your dog doesn’t handle diet changes well.
What if my dog has food allergies? While the dog food trend has been grain-free the last several years, most dogs are not allergic to grain, according to a well known veterinary dermatologist in Atlanta. It’s usually the meat protein that causes the allergy. If you know the meat culprit for your pet, look for a diet that has a different protein but is NOT grain-free. If you know that your pet is allergic to “grains” but are unsure which grains specifically (i.e. corn, wheat, oats, soy or barley) then you may be stuck feeding a grain-free diet. BUT, supplement with a suitable lean meat or eggs (something your dog is not allergic to) for increased taurine. If these options are impossible as your dog can only eat rabbit or kangaroo meat, then please let us know so we can recommend a veterinary nutritionist or discuss supplementation with the essential amino acids the diet may be missing. It is recommended that any supplements only be given by the instruction of a veterinary professional.
SECOND, contact us. We will want to perform an exam, specifically evaluating the heart. We will discuss options with you based on our exam. We may recommend checking your pet's taurine level. If it is low then we will likely recommend x-rays, an echocardiogram and taurine supplementation.
THIRD, don’t panic. Most, if not all of the diet-related heart disease is reversible, especially if caught before clinical signs develop.
FOR ALL THE GOLDEN RETRIEVER "PARENTS": A large number of Golden Retrievers were diagnosed with DCM during studies. Some were on grain-free diets and others were not. Apparently, this breed is susceptible to taurine depletion and DCM, meaning they may need supplementation. Checking a taurine blood level might be a good idea.
As for me… I’ve been feeding 2 of the diets on the list to our Cam and Peso for about 10 months now. Luckily I have mixed in an occasional bag of Royal Canin or Purina that were not grain-free or on the FDA list. I am now switching to good old Purina ProPlan or Purina One with grains and meat as the first ingredient. I am going to mix that with Royal Canin Golden Retriever or Labrador Retriever diet. By mixing, I feel like I’m not “putting all of my eggs in one basket”. I am also going to have a taurine level checked on Cam as I feel she may have a cardiac issue related to the food.
Please call us with any concerns. (770) 921-8558
Lee Hopper, D.V.M.